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The Bengal famine of the early 1940s:


pogo

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Some members of the 32csm appear to take something of an interest in the Bengal famine of the early 1940s, so I decided to up a thread to discuss these events in greater detail.
 

pogo

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Hmm, not a lot of takers ............

Bogwarrior, I thought you had a lot to say about these events .......
 

Bogwarrior

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Wiped from history, Catalpa.
Churchill seized/stole all the food supplies from the Bengalis and exported them to his troops who were fighting in Burma.
3-4 million men women and children died in two years.
No different from Germans taking food from the camps and directing it to troops on the Russian Front.
Whilst the Germans are forever apologising for their actions, the average Brit hasn't even heard of this Holocaust, and if they do, they sneer and deride it as insignificant.
The Bengalis unfortunatley don't have people of significance in seats of international power, or media moguls, and are the wrong skin colour.
Pogo denies any wrongdoing, and I'd like to know, what's the difference between Pogo and David Irving?
Interestingly, in the 50 years since the British left _India, there have been no famines, and the population grew by 186%, whereas in the 50 previous years of British Rule it only grew by 35%.
Wikipedia has some info on this, to those interested.
 

Catalpa

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Bogwarrior said:
Wiped from history, Catalpa.
Churchill seized/stole all the food supplies from the Bengalis and exported them to his troops who were fighting in Burma.
3-4 million men women and children died in two years.
No different from Germans taking food from the camps and directing it to troops on the Russian Front.
Whilst the Germans are forever apologising for their actions, the average Brit hasn't even heard of this Holocaust, and if they do, they sneer and deride it as insignificant.
The Bengalis unfortunatley don't have people of significance in seats of international power, or media moguls, and are the wrong skin colour.
Pogo denies any wrongdoing, and I'd like to know, what's the difference between Pogo and David Irving?
Interestingly, in the 50 years since the British left _India, there have been no famines, and the population grew by 186%, whereas in the 50 previous years of British Rule it only grew by 35%.
Wikipedia has some info on this, to those interested.
Well while I have no doubt that India is doing a lot better as an Independent State than as someone elses colony IIRC there was a Famine in Bihar circa 1966/67?

Interesting subject though.

Here is a link:

http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspo ... engal.html
 

Bogwarrior

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Bihar is described as a " near miss" in wiki.
The last great famine happened under Churchills watch. Like our own famine negligence and a cavalier attitude to those dying amplified the crisis.
Like in Ireland, food was EXported daily from the region.
When the issue of millions dying, in what was then, British territory was raised in Westminster, only 10% of the M.Ps attended.
A "bodycount" established a figure of 1.8 million, but it later transpired this did not take into account roadside deaths.
Churchill stole food from the mouths of millions of women and children.
Think about that.
Is he any different from the AK-toting African warlord pillaging a U.N food convoy?
 

Pax

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pogo said:
Some members of the 32csm appear to take something of an interest in the Bengal famine of the early 1940s, so I decided to up a thread to discuss these events in greater detail.
Ok, I'm not 32csm but I'll bite although it's curious that you're not focusing on the worst Indian example of both famine and enforced liberal economics (with a powder keg dash of racism and brutal empire in-a-hot-climate), that of the Famine of the late Vitctorian era where ~30 million died at the hand of Lord lytton's policies - the effect of which was of course well known at that stage.

I'd recommend Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (2001), he estimates that between 31 and 61 million people starved to death in the great famines that terrorized India, China and Brazil in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, upwards of thirty million in India alone. The unholy trinity of conquest, capitalism and climate that, led to the starvation of so many millions. It is of the utmost importance for today's rulers to play down many of the causes of this as there's more contraindicitive work to be done in such areas as Africa and Iraq...

Also, during the first Bengal famine of 1770 Bengal was subject to the tender mercy of the British East India Company. 10 million would die in this one and they had no option of an American style revolution agin the same corporation. The death toll from the early 1940s famine (when India was still under British rule remember) was ~3million.

In other words just like in the Indian famines/holocausts of the 1870s the grain of India was eaten in London's bread. It was made available (exported at the end of a gun) and affordable to the people and manafacturers of London, not to the people who needed it most - the starving Indians.

Some wiki's extracts and reviews for those interested in such things...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famine_in_India

The first Bengal famine of 1770 is estimated to have taken nearly one-third of the population. The famines continued until independence in 1948, with the Bengal famine of 1943-44—among the most devastating—killing 3-4 million Indians during World War II.

[....]

The increase in food to the population is also reflected in the fact that in the 50 years of British rule (1891 to 1941) the population grew by 35% (from 287 million to 389 million) whereas in the 50 years of democratic rule from 1951 to 2001 the population grew by 183% (from 363 million to 1,023 million) [2]. The fact that there have been no famines even with a population that has almost tripled makes it an even more impressive achievement for the democratic government.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_famine_of_1770
East_India_Company_responsibilities
As the famine approached its height, in April of 1770, the Company announced that land tax for the following year was to be increased by 10%.

[....]

Globally, the profit of the Company increased from 15 million rupees in 1765 up to 30 million rupees in 1777.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amartya_Sen
In 1981, Sen published Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, a book in which he demonstrated that famine occurs not only from a lack of food, but from inequalities built into mechanisms for distributing food. Sen's interest in famine stemmed from personal experience. As a nine-year-old boy, he witnessed the Bengal famine of 1943, in which three million people perished. This staggering loss of life was unnecessary, Sen later concluded. He believed that there was an adequate food supply in India at the time, but that its distribution was hindered because particular groups of people—in this case rural labourers—lost their jobs and therefore their ability to purchase the food. In his book Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), Sen revealed that in many cases of famine, food supplies were not significantly reduced. In Bengal, for example, food production whilst down on the previous year was higher than in previous non-famine years. Thus, Sen points to a number of social and economic factors, such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution systems. These issues led to starvation among certain groups in society. His capabilities approach focuses on positive freedom, a person's actual ability to be or do something, rather than on negative freedom approaches, which are common in economics and simply focuses on non-interference. In the Bengal famine, rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. However, they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything, they did not have the functioning of nourishment, nor the capability to escape morbidity.

For more see er Hunger strike...


In Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis charts the unprecedented human suffering caused by a series of extreme climactic conditions in the final quarter of the 19th century. Drought and monsoons afflicted much of China, southern Africa, Brazil, Egypt and India. The death tolls were staggering: around 12m Chinese and over 6m Indians in 1876-1878 alone. The chief culprit, according to Davis, was not the weather, but European empires, with Japan and the US. Their imposition of free-market economics on the colonial world was tantamount to a "cultural genocide".

These are strong words. Yet it's hard to disagree with them after reading Davis's harrowing book. Development economists have long argued that drought need not lead to famine; well-stocked inventories and effective distribution can limit the damage. In the 19th century, however, drought was treated, particularly by the English in India, as an opportunity for reasserting sovereignty.
 

pogo

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Bogwarrior said:
Interestingly, in the 50 years since the British left _India, there have been no famines,
Already been discussed here and here

Pax: if you want discussion to flow from your points, pls make them shorter and more succinct.
 

Breadan O'Connor

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As B.M. Bhatia writes in his 1967 book, Famines in India: "From about the beginning of the eleventh century to the end of the eighteenth there were 14 major famines in India." This is roughly two per century. Under the period of East India Company rule from 1765-1858 there occurred 16 major famines, a rate eight times higher than what had been common before. Then, under the period of British Colonial Office rule from 1859 to 1914, there was a major famine in India an average of every two years, or 25 times the historical rate before British rule! The rest of the world's population was growing due to technological progress, but the population of India remained at approximately 220 million for over a century prior to 1914.

Deliberately inducing a major famine more or less every two years, was, for over half a century, the backbone of British colonial policy in India.

The history of the British in India is a history of the deliberate creation of famines. Such famines resulted from the policies of the East India Company. Those policies included looting through "tax farming," usury, and outright slavery of the indigenous population.

As we shall see, a limit to this rapine was reached in the middle of the 19th Century, leading to the first struggle for Indian independence, which began with the Sepoy Mutiny. Following that revolt, a new policy was developed by the British Colonial Office, which took over all the operations of the East India Company. The new policy revolved around creating famines in selected regions on a continuous basis, with the goal of creating a mass of starving people who could be used as slave labor, needed by the British to build the infrastructure of British rule.
Then and Now: British Imperial Policy Means Famine
 

former wesleyan

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The WW2 Bengal Famine could only be partially attributed to British policy and that because of the approach of the Japanese through Burma. Hoarding is one of the prime causes of shortages in India, although it rarely gets as outing !

Bengal famine of 1943 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amartya Sen holds the view that there was no overall shortage of rice in Bengal in 1943: availability was actually slightly higher than in 1941, when there was no famine.[12] It was partly this which conditioned the sluggish official response to the disaster, as there had been no serious crop failures and hence the famine was unexpected. Its root causes, Sen argues, lay in rumours of shortage which caused hoarding, and rapid price inflation caused by war-time demands which made rice stocks an excellent investment (prices had already doubled over the previous year). In Sen's interpretation, while landowning peasants who actually grew rice and those employed in defence-related industries in urban areas and at the docks saw their wages rise, this led to a disastrous shift in the exchange entitlements of groups such as landless labourers, fishermen, barbers, paddy huskers and other groups who found the real value of their wages had been slashed by two-thirds since 1940. Quite simply, although Bengal had enough rice and other grains to feed itself, millions of people were suddenly too poor to buy it.[13]
 
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